On These Two Commandments

Pressing On

Reformation Sunday, Year A

Reformation Sunday is an interesting event. In one sense, it has become an opportunity for all non-Catholic churches to celebrate their history that Luther and then others led in a break from the Roman influence in Europe. Some historians claim that it was on October 31 that Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door. So, this is the Sunday closest to that event.

Note to the Teacher

Our faith calls us into a relationship with God and with other people. Those relationships can be difficult and complex, to say the least. However, Jesus gives us a guide to how we press on, and it’s the same in both aspects of our faith: love. As we press on, we follow the path of love. When it is most fully expressed, we can know we are doing the work of pressing on in our faith.

1. Ice Breaker: My Love Language (10 minutes)

Author Gary Chapman asserts that there are five main “languages” that people use to give and receive love. They are:

  • words of affirmation
  • quality time
  • receiving gifts
  • acts of service
  • physical touch

The basic idea is that most of us have a naturally preferred “love language” that we use to express our love toward others. We also have a preferred way to receive love from others. Take a moment to describe the five love languages to the students. Ask them to decide which is their primary “love language.” (For background and more information about the “Five Love Languages,” this Wikipedia article may be helpful)

Once students have selected their love language, give them each a 3 by 5 card (or have them text the leader if you are online) and ask them to write their love language on the card. Next, have them pass all the cards in. Ask a volunteer to try to match the love language cards with the people in the group. If you have a large group, break into smaller groups for this exercise.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

Read Matthew 22:34-40.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • The Pharisees would have probably emphasized the first statement of Jesus, “Love the lord your God . . .” without realizing the need to tie another command to it. What does the second commandment Jesus gives add to the first?
  • Have you ever seen a Christian who seemed to follow only one of these commandments? What made you think that?
  • Jesus says that all the law and the prophets “depend on these two commandments.” Take a moment to make a list of ten “laws” or “commands” you can remember in the Bible. Take the two commands Jesus says in this passage as two categories and assign each of the other commands from the Bible to one of these categories.
  • The common idea between the two commandments Jesus gives is love. How is loving God and loving other people the same or similar?
  • What might the second command teach us about how important it is to love ourselves? Remember, after all, we are in the adopted family of God, and each of us is made in God’s image.

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

Give each student a quarter or other coin, a piece of paper, pencil, scissors and tape (or ask them to get those supplies from their home if you are meeting online). Students begin by using the coin to trace two circles on the piece of paper and cut them out. On one circle, they will write “Love God.” On the other circle, they will write, “Love people.” Then have them tape the circles to either side of the coin facing out. When they have finished, ask them what this activity reveals about the two commandments (they are two sides to the same coin).

Ask students to go around the group one by one, flipping the coin. If it lands with “love God” face up, the student will share one thing he/she can do to love God the next day. If it lands on “love people,” he/she will offer one way to love someone else the next day.

Ask students to keep the coin in their pocket, backpack, or purse for the next week so that they can be reminded to press on in love.

Total time: 50 minutes

Needed resources:

  • One roll of yarn per student
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Coin

In This Series...

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Reformation Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes